Good angling etiquette on streams seems to be more
common than on lakes. Many beginners assume that
because another angler's fishing spot is less
defined in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, it is
more open to encroachment.
On a recent trip to central Idaho's Little Payette
Lake, for example, I saw several fledgling float
tubers perform less than nobly. It was bad enough
when they moved their belly boats right in and
"sat" where a shore fisherman was casting, but
when they snagged his line things got a little
hairy. After a few choice expletives, the intruders
got the message and moved down the lake. I thought
the shore wader displayed admirable restraint in
not putting flies in the ears of a couple of the
Fishing from float tubes and pontoon boats is a fast
growing discipline and it's mandatory that newcomers
understand and practice good angling etiquette on stillwater.
The current-day emphasis on urban fishing by many
state fish and game agencies is welcomed by many
anglers. But along with improved urban fishing,
comes a need for a broader awareness of basic
angling etiquette. Anglers must realize that
good fishing manners is as important in an urban
setting as in a remote wilderness lake or stream.
An angler first to arrive at a run or pool in a
stream, or a well defined hot spot on a lake,
should be entitled to sole possession of that
"hole." Shoulder to shoulder fishing might be
a part of the angling ethic in some more populous
areas, but not in my home state of Idaho.
While it might be difficult to convince many of
the shoulder to shoulder anglers on a popular
Pennsylvania stream on opening day, that the
first fisherman to arrive is solely entitled to
a prime area, most western anglers will accept
the premise without debate. Even on heavily fished
urban fisheries like the Boise River, that runs
through downtown Boise.
The rule of angling etiquette applied to Idaho's
famous Silver Creek would, admittedly, be difficult
to impose on this urban fishery. While most Silver
Creek anglers will give the early arriver at least
40 or 50 yards above and below where he is fishing,
such would not be the case through the city of Boise;
although there are some basic rules of good conduct
that should apply.
I was on a photo shoot on the Boise River several
years ago, when I watched a fly fisherman (the subject
of my shoot) lose a nice steelhead. Another fly
fisherman who had been working an area 100 yards
upstream, saw the action and immediately began
moving downstream. Within three or four minutes
the second angler had waded to the exact spot
where the first steelheader had hooked and lost
To say the first angler was unhappy with the second
angler's actions, would be a gross understatement.
He gave the intruder two minutes to get out of the
river...or else. The intruder glared at the first
fisherman, for about 20 seconds, and then waded out
of the river and headed for his vehicle. About a
dozen other anglers in this popular Boise River run,
clapped him back to his truck. I got some great
photographs and a newspaper column out of the incident.
A friend once described to me an incident that happened
to him on a popular western Idaho river. He was working
upriver to a rising trout when a pickup pulled over and
an angler rushed down, waded to within 30 feet of where
my friend was casting and chunked out his bait, which
consisted of a big nightcrawler and a two ounce sinker.
When it became obvious he had spooked the fish, the
angler uttered a few choice words - no apology of
course - and flew off to find another fishing hole
(he could pollute?).
My friend said he thought about beating the guys brains
in, but reconsidered. "The guy probably wouldn't have
understood my actions," my friend told me, "and I would
have ended up with bruised knuckles and (his) hospital bill."
When an angler has doubts about "crowding" another
fisherman, he should consider how he would feel if
the roles were reversed. Such self-evaluation might
have stopped the Glenwood Bridge angler from backing
his pickup truck into the Boise River, between two
established fishermen. The trucker unfolded a lawn
hair in the bed of the truck, cracked a case of brew,
and cast over the line of his upstream neighbor.
That was bad enough, but when the intruder cranked up
his truck radio and blasted everybody within earshot
with his favorite country western (at high volume),
the six other people fishing the area had a conversation
with him and he chose to go elsewhere to fish.
The best contemporary code of behavior was voiced by
Jack Lorenz, executive director of the Izaak Walton
League of America. In your outdoors activities, Lorenz
once said, behave as though you were being followed by
a cameraman from the 60 Minutes television program,
and viewers would be seeing a 20-minute segment of
your actions on a Sunday evening telecast.
What a scary thought. ~ Marv
Marv Taylor's books, Float-Tubing The West,
The Successful Angler's Journal,
More Fragments of the Puzzle, (Volume I) and More
Fragments of the Puzzle, (Volume II) are all available from
Marv. You can reach Marv by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 208-322-5760.